Fort Walton Beach, Choctaw youngsters could "rejuvenate" local volleyball scene

 On one side of the net in Fort Walton Beach’s gym stood three sophomores and three juniors. On the other, two juniors, three freshmen and a sophomore with a freshman libero also slotted in the starting lineup.

Neither Fort Walton Beach nor Choctaw will be graduating a single of their starters from Tuesday night’s match.

And here’s the crazy part: they are, with no question, two of the most talented, if not at times a bit perplexing, teams in the area.  

Though the Vikings won in straight sets (25-21, 25-16, 25-21), it was far from a blowout, and it provided a glimpse of what the future might have in store for the local volleyball scene.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Fort Walton Beach coach Gigi Vardai said. “That’s what we’re trying to do— rebirth, regenerate, rejuvenate the volleyball in this area. There’s a lot of talent here.

“All artists start with the same canvas. It’s what you put on it that shows what kind of artist you are.”

As the majority of the playing time was eaten up by underclassmen, underclassmen predictably ate up the vast majority of the box score.

Viking setter Zoe Quitugua led with 23 assists while sophomore hitters Madison Friedman (8 kills, 12 digs), Zadie Engelberger (6 kills) and Kara Fisher (5 kills) were the top three leaders for Fort Walton Beach.

On the Choctaw side, sophomore Evelina Teran led all players with 10 kills while freshmen Alyssa Sehman and Kassandra Fairly combined for 12 more.

Sometimes the abundance of youth resulted in some puzzling mistakes — both Vardai and Choctaw coach Scott Allen have already acknowledged this to be part of the learning curve — but, as Vardai said, these teams could be exhibits A and B for the “rejuvenation” of Okaloosa County volleyball.

By TRAVIS MEWHIRTER | Daily News Published: September 2 22:36, 2014
 

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